Off the Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle – Eps 6 – Behind the Scenes with Scott.
If you host television shows and travel all over cooking for a living, stuff happens. So Michelle asked Scott for some juicy BTS tales.
One starts with friends squishing dog poop between their toes at the foot of their bed in the middle of the night. What?
Sticking with this theme, Scott reluctantly shares the story of a morning after a night of eating street food while on a duck hunt in Mexico. We’ll leave it at that for now.
Then Michelle asks about Scott’s go-to recipe for cooking waterfowl. What he does to change somebody’s mind if they say they don’t like duck. Then a go-to venison approach, which draws to the surface a pet peeve… something about backstrap medallions.
And a go-to fish recipe. And Michelle scoffs at Scott’s claim of being a multi-tasker, a bold assertion for any man.
Isn’t Scott going to ask Michelle for her go-to recipe? Of course: for “cheese.”
What? You’ll have to listen to find out what happens after that.
Off the Record Podcast – Episode 6 – Transcript
Intro: Good day and welcome to Off the Record. You’ll find us at the intersection of interesting ideas and great pairings. It all tastes good when these two cook it up, so let’s listen in to The Sporting Chef, Scott, and outdoor industry insider, Michelle, as they talk wild game, wine, and anything else that comes to mind. Time to sample and sip our way through the best part of the day as we go Off the Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.
Michelle Scheuermann: Okay, here we are with Off The Record with Scott and Michelle. I’m not sure why your name is ahead of my name, but we’ll just let it go for now.
Scott: We can call it “Michelle and Scott” from now on.
Michelle: Age before beauty, maybe, I don’t know.
Scott: Sure, sure.
Michelle: But thank you for listening to us jabber on. Today, I ask Scott for some behind-the-scenes stories, because he’s such a popular person, persona in the outdoor industry, and also some of his go-to recipes, but you do have some stories that you want to share.
Scott: You know, I’m trying to think of some behind-the-scenes stories.
Michelle: Well, you were telling me about one.
Scott: But that’s not really behind the scenes, that was more of a… That was where did this dog shit come from? Which is, I guess, is as a good a place to open as any, so…
Michelle: If you’re gonna open anywhere, start with dog shit.
Scott: I had a show called “Hunt Fish Cook” on the Sportsman Channel with my buddy Donny McElvoy.
Scott: And Donny did the hunting and fishing, I did the cooking. I spent a lot of time at their house in Huntsville, Alabama. Him and his wife Kate are very good friends of mine.
Scott: And my favorite story that’s about dogs, is they woke up in the middle of the night; so picture this, you wake up in the middle of the night and all of a sudden you feel something down by your feet, under the covers, and you go…
Michelle: This is so gross.
Scott: “What in the hell is this?” And you pull the covers out and there’s a bunch of dog shit, and it’s on your feet and it’s under the covers, and so you’re kind of walking on your heels and hopping in the shower and trying to get the dog shit off.
Michelle: I would be puking because of the smell, I mean…
Scott: And you’re stripping the bed. And now at their house, they all have dogs coming in and out all the time, people stop by, they bring their dogs.
Michelle: So how did a dog get in between the covers?
Scott: Well, just stay with me.
Scott: So you see dogs coming in and out all the time, doors are open, and so it’s a very dog-friendly place. So, what happened, the next day or so after, Kate is lying in bed and their dog Izzy comes by and drops a frozen dog turd on the bed. So Izzy is a black Lab, was a black Lab, rest in peace Izzy, and so Izzy was retrieving things, so Izzy brought in a frozen dog turd that got it worked underneath the sheets back into the… Underneath the covers, and then it thawed.
Michelle: Oh, my God. [laughter]
Scott: So the frozen dog turd thawed, and then that’s how it got all up into the sheets…
Michelle: Oh, my God.
Scott: And that was mystery solved. Izzy was bringing in the frozen dog turds.
Michelle: We had like five followers on our podcast. We might have lost all of them; I don’t know.
Scott: Yeah, but the dog lovers are gonna understand.
Michelle: Where were the… I don’t even…
Scott: And it was just frozen dog turds out in the yard that Izzy thought she would retrieve and wanted to come in and brought it in, and you know, dogs do things, dogs eat dog shit and they lick each other’s butts and do things like that. And you just have to be careful which dog you’re letting give you a kiss.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh. So what other behind-the-scenes stories do you have to share?
Scott: You know, I was trying to think of the ones that I can share because…
Michelle: Are there ones you can’t share?
Scott: Well, you know…
Michelle: Is there like a secret code between you and other chefs?
Scott: It might reveal things about me that I don’t want you to know.
Michelle: That’s why it’s called Off The Record.
Scott: And it’s nothing, nothing that you would go to jail for. I’ve had a few gastrointestinal moments where I had to seek shelter in a hurry, [chuckle] that…
Michelle: But I think… Were you hunting, or were you cooking?
Scott: Oh, yeah. Oh, I’m…
Michelle: I think everyone… Oh, was this in Mexico? Were you in Mazatlan?
Scott: Mexico, that was… Okay.
Scott: There is one… So we’re shooting ducks in Mexico.
Michelle: See, I knew this one, I knew this story.
Scott: And the night before, I was in downtown Mazatlan eating foods from the street vendors. So…
Michelle: Nothing wrong with that.
Scott: I’ve got… Brooks and Steve are there running cameras, and I go by this one vendor, and he opens the lid of this container, and I don’t know if there were more flies…
Michelle: Oh, my God!
Scott: Or shrimp and oysters in that container.
Michelle: Oh, my God! But you love oysters, so you’re like, “Hey, this is cool, I’m fine with this.”
Scott: So I said, “Hey, how bad could it be?” So I’m eating off these street vendors all night long, ’cause I like doing that kind of stuff. And it was fun, it was good TV. Well, the next morning, we go out, we had to shoot a few more ducks to get some kill shots for the show before we go to the… Directly to the airport. And then as I’m doing the stand-up, I’m talking to the camera and wrapping up the show, all of a sudden it hit me like a freight train. I mean, there was no way I could have gotten away that fast, but Montezuma’s revenge, revenged me in the biggest of ways, and I had to leave a set of clothes behind and…
Michelle: Oh, my God! [laughter]
Scott: And then clean myself up at the airport before I got on the plane back to California.
Michelle: Oh, my God! [laughter]
Scott: Hey, you brought it up. That’s gonna be… I think that’s my behind-the-scenes story.
Michelle: That’s literally behind the scenes.
Scott: And here’s the problem with the behind-the-scenes stuff, is that…
Michelle: It’s not sexy.
Scott: Next time I see somebody that listens to this podcast, they’re gonna go, “Hey, did you shit your pants?”
Scott: And it’s not something I always do, but I did happen to do it… I did happen to do it… And by the way…
Michelle: I don’t always shit my pants. [laughter]
Scott: By the way, as I was talking to the camera…
Michelle: Were you shitting yourself?
Scott: I was shitting myself.
Scott: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Michelle: Couldn’t you tell? [laughter]
Scott: No. I didn’t… Well, everybody else knew. It was no surprise to anybody else what was going on. And I was wearing shorts, so it really wasn’t all that well contained. So…
Michelle: I’m dying.
Scott: That’s all you’re gonna get out of me.
Michelle: I’m dying. [laughter]
Scott: Let’s talk about my go-to recipes.
Michelle: Let’s talk about something else. [laughter]
Scott: Speaking of waterfowl, speaking of ducks. And by the way, when we were in Mexico, we shot mostly Cinnamon Teal and Spoonies. They were everywhere.
Michelle: I didn’t know there was a Cinnamon Teal.
Scott: You what?
Michelle: I didn’t know there was a Cinnamon Teal.
Scott: Well, they’re not cinnamon flavored. It’s kind of a… It’s a color.
Michelle: No, I didn’t know there was a… Yeah, I didn’t know there was a species of bird.
Scott: We’ve got a lot of them here in California, but they have a lot more of them in Mexico currently. But… So my go-to recipe, waterfowl. If I wanna change somebody’s mind that says, “Duck is livery, muttony, blah blah blah,” first thing I do is I brine it. We’ve talked about brining.
Scott: Pat it dry. And by the way, if you want your food to brown, if you want meat to brown well, when you take it out of the marinade, you wanna pat it dry. Dry meat is gonna sear a lot more readily. If you leave all that marinade on there, what’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna end up with steamed meat instead of seared meat. So anyway…
Michelle: And you need a really hot pan.
Scott: Hot skillet, little olive oil in the bottom, put a duck breast down there, I prefer a big fat mallard, skin on. I’m gonna put it skin side down, and as soon as that skin is crispy, and not a minute before it’s crispy, because rubbery duck skin is a drag. Crispy duck skin, once it’s crisp, you flip it over, put in a big splash of balsamic vinegar, some kind of preserves out of the refrigerator, and that’s gonna be your sour and your sweet. Finish it with a little bit of butter just to kind of smooth out the edges after you’ve reduced all of that balsamic vinegar. Make sure you take your duck breast out before it’s overcooked; 135 degrees is my limit on the internal temperature on that.
Michelle: How do you… Do you have a probe?
Scott: I know what it feels like.
Michelle: Oh. For all the rest of us… My oven actually has a probe.
Scott: Use a meat thermometer.
Michelle: My oven has a probe.
Scott: Get a meat thermometer, just a little…
Scott: $5 meat thermometer, and then…
Scott: Yeah. ‘Cause the probes are great if you’re in the oven, but if you’re on top in a skillet. Does your probe work there too?
Michelle: No, just in the oven. Yes.
Scott: Right, just in the oven. I’m in a skillet, I’m on top. It’s gonna be seared quickly. While you’re reducing the sauce and finishing with a little butter, give your duck breast a minute to relax and rest. Slice it across the grain, drizzle some of that balsamic vinegar, balsamic berry sauce, and then garnish it with some fresh berries.
Michelle: I think you have some of those sauce recipes on your website too.
Scott: Go to sportingchef.com, those recipes are there.
Michelle: Yeah, I’ve seen those. Yeah.
Scott: For antler game, that same recipe applies, but I like to keep it simpler. If I’m cooking a backstrap or a tenderloin, which are the two preferred cuts, apparently, one of the things for that backstrap that you need to remember, is that the grain on the backstrap, on the loin, runs at an angle. It’s not like it looks like it should. So what I like to do with the backstrap is I will cut it along the grain in about 4-inch wide segments. And then I’m going to rub it with a little…
Michelle: Before you cook it?
Scott: Before I cook it, I’m gonna season it with salt and pepper, and I’ll make something very simple. I’ll take red pepper jelly, spicy red pepper jelly, and dijon mustard, really, really simple. Mix those two things together, spread it on the outside of that backstrap, grill it, pan sear it, don’t care, 130-135 degree internal temperature, and then when you go to slice it, slice it across the grain always. So when you’re cutting it off the backstrap, you go with the grain. Okay, here’s another pet peeve.
Michelle: Oh… Got real excited there for a second.
Scott: This part kills me.
Michelle: Okay. Alright.
Scott: When processors take…
Michelle: We haven’t talked about pet peeves.
Scott: Take the backstrap and they butterfly everything. They’ll take the loin and they cut it into medallions, butterflied medallions.
Michelle: Why do they do that?
Scott: I don’t know. I ask them why they do that, they say, “So it’ll cook more consistently.” Leave the whole dang backstrap…
Michelle: Did you ask them how you want them cut… [chuckle]
Scott: Leave it intact, or cut it into say, 10-inch segments. That way, if you wanna stuff it, stir-fry it, do thin slice, whatever you wanna do, you can still do the medallions. You have the option of doing that. When you butterfly those things right off the bat, you have no other options, so knock that off. So anyway…
Michelle: Be specific with your processor.
Scott: Right, say, “Leave my backstraps intact.” I don’t care if they leave the silver skin on, I can take that off, but don’t cut it up into medallions. So you’ve got the dijon mustard and the pepper jelly, equal parts, spread that on the outside, so the pepper jelly with the sugar in there, that’s going to make it burn a little bit. So you wanna be careful, don’t put it on really direct heat, ’cause you’re just gonna burn the sugar on the outside.
Michelle: And then it’s gonna taste bad. Yeah.
Scott: But when you go to slice it, slice it across the grain, it’s super, super easy. My fish recipe go-to is gonna be in one skillet. It’s really simple. My fish is dry. Into a skillet I use half olive oil, half butter so that I have the flavor of the butter, a little higher burning point with the olive oil. First side down, let’s say I’m cooking a… Pick a fish.
Scott: Salmon. Apparently the most popular fish, at least in the US, it seems like. Once it’s lightly browned…
Michelle: Well, unless you’re from Minnesota, then it’s like Cod. [laughter]
Scott: It’s Cod. Or Walleye, if you can get it, right.
Michelle: Or Walleye. Yeah.
Scott: Flip it over. Once you’ve browned it on one side, flip it over. Just add a little… Some white wine, a little butter, and I like when I’m doing salmon, because it’s oily and has a lot of flavor to it, I like to make a little brown butter in there. So when you put the butter in, and I put for a 8 oz piece of salmon, I’m gonna put three or four tablespoons of butter at least.
Scott: And when that butter starts to foam, keep stirring it, and use that foamy butter, it’s gonna start turning a little brown now, use that to baste that salmon, it’s gonna give it that flavor. We’re making brown butter, not burnt butter. So…
Michelle: Be careful.
Scott: Be careful. If it gets burnt, you’re gone, you gotta start over, but you want it to be brown and nutty. And just before I serve it, put a little splash of balsamic vinegar in that also; and I learned this from my buddy, Chef Joe Shaw up in Nashville. So you’re gonna have a balsamic brown butter that is great on salmon.
Michelle: I have to try that.
Scott: Easy, easy, easy.
Michelle: I always bake my fish, because it’s just… You can’t screw that up.
Scott: And see, I bake it less than anything probably.
Michelle: Yeah, I just put a pat of butter on each fish, and I sprinkle… What’s that famous seasoning? Old Bay.
Scott: Old Bay.
Michelle: I should use Hi Mountain seasoning, which, they have a really good salmon rub. And then I just bake… Yeah, I bake it.
Scott: Do you ever poach your fish?
Scott: Because poaching…
Michelle: I don’t do anything other than baking. [laughter] I don’t fry it, I don’t grill it, I don’t…
Scott: You never saute it?
Michelle: No. That takes more work. So now while my fish is baking, I can work on my sides, I can set the table, I can clean the kitchen, and I can do… My thing, when I cook, is all about doing the most in that amount of time.
Michelle: So I’m washing dishes, I’m cleaning the kitchen, and I’m doing five other things. I’m not just cooking.
Scott: Well, yeah. But I mean, I do that too.
Michelle: Are you? Are you? Are you really?
Scott: But I’m talking about one pan. I multitask like nobody’s business.
Michelle: But you’re always cooking.
Scott: I know, but while I’m…
Michelle: I’m saying. I’m probably doing laundry. I’m being a housewife.
Scott: I’m editing TV shows. I’m writing…
Michelle: You’re not editing… While you’re cooking?
Michelle: I don’t believe you.
Scott: Not if I’ve got a saute thing going, but I mean I’m not just gonna stand there and stare at my pan. I’m gonna be working on side dishes and everything else too, but we’re talking about one skillet. I mean one pot, one skillet meals to me are the way to go.
Michelle: Oh yeah, I hate it. That’s why I stopped doing Hello Fresh.
Scott: I don’t know what that is.
Michelle: Okay, I understand ’cause you’re a chef, and you don’t do these things.
Scott: What’s Hello Fresh?
Michelle: So Hello Fresh is a meal delivery service. And… Stop, stop giving me a weird look. And they send you, every week you get three meals, and everything is cut up and done, mostly cut up, well not cut up, but everything is packaged for you, and then… But usually I’ve used three or four different pans to make the meal, and I don’t like that.
Scott: Do you still do Hello Fresh?
Michelle: I don’t do it anymore.
Scott: How long did you do it?
Scott: Probably for a year I did it.
Scott: Wow, that’s a long time.
Michelle: I did it here and there. I did, yeah.
Scott: And did you use all of your Hello Fresh, ’cause you can…
Michelle: You get three meals in a box, yeah.
Scott: And do you tell ’em what kind of things you like, or do they figure out what you want…
Michelle: You pick from their website. They have all sorts of dishes. You can pick by calorie, you can pick by, if your vegetarian.
Scott: Here’s what I do. I go to the grocery store or the farmer’s market.
Scott: Not everyone’s like you, though. [laughter]
Scott: But I think a lot of people are like me. That’s probably not necessarily a good thing.
Michelle: You’re a unicorn, I don’t know. [laughter]
Scott: So I go to the grocery store, and I see what looks good and what’s in season.
Michelle: How many times do you grocery shop in a week?
Scott: Four to five, probably.
Michelle: You go to the grocery store four to five times in a… Holy shit, no.
Scott: I like it… I go, I like the grocery store. I go to the grocery store a lot. I can…
Michelle: No. Once a week. I refuse to go the grocery store any more than once a week.
Scott: Well, and I don’t wanna go to the grocery store with you, ’cause I go there by myself.
Michelle: Yeah, I don’t…
Scott: And that way I’m not rushed.
Michelle: Yeah. No, I get that.
Scott: I go and look at what looks good. If I’m thinking, “Boy, I’m gonna have guacamole tonight,” and I go there and the avocados are green, well, I’m not having guacamole tonight.
Michelle: Right. So you don’t order a grocery service to have it delivered?
Scott: No, no. [chuckle]
Michelle: You don’t trust them?
Scott: I did that a couple times when I had ankle surgery, ’cause I couldn’t drive.
Michelle: Yeah, and how’d that work out for you?
Scott: I didn’t really care for it. I need to go see what the stuff looks like. So in season stuff, get what’s in season, use what’s fresh, you’d go and you see what’s on sale.
Michelle: Four to five times a week. I am so sorry, I’m so sorry.
Scott: Yeah I like going to the grocery store. Well, I cook a lot.
Michelle: You cook for you and Janelle?
Scott: Well, I cook… I’m all over the country cooking.
Michelle: But I just mean at home.
Scott: If I’m… In a given week, if I’m home, I’m gonna go three times a week.
Michelle: Jesus, wow. That’s too much. That’s too much.
Scott: I want fresh stuff. When I go away on a trip, I basically come home and throw away all the produce that’s rotten while I was gone. And I make meals for my family before I leave and that kind of thing. So…
Michelle: I do that too for Wayne. Right before I left to come here to record with you, I make sure Wayne has enough food to last him for a week.
Scott: Sure. What would he do if you didn’t do that?
Michelle: I don’t know.
Scott: ‘Cause my wife will eat popcorn.
Michelle: Yeah, I don’t know what he would do.
Scott: Or we have enough friends that…
Michelle: He would figure it out, but…
Scott: That call my wife and say, “We’ll take you to dinner.”
Michelle: Oh! [chuckle] She’s lucky. She has a very full life.
Scott: Well, and I’ll reciprocate. When I’m home, I’ll have them over and pay them back.
Michelle: There you go. [chuckle]
Scott: And when we entertain here, it’s very casual. It’s not… We don’t do pretentious food. It’s normally people just hang out in the kitchen and I say, “Hey, try this, try this, try this.” And when they stop eating, I stop cooking, and then we start drinking more. So…
Michelle: Drinking more, sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Well, Scott, those are all your go-to recipes?
Scott: Yeah, those are… That’s enough for now. And then I think with the behind-the-scenes story we got, I think…
Michelle: This a really powerful podcast.
Scott: That’s probably gonna cover more than I need to. There’s things that happen behind the scenes that are sometimes best left unsaid, and perhaps this is one of them.
Michelle: Are you gonna ask me my go-to recipe? [laughter]
Scott: Yeah. What is it? Okay. So what is your go-to recipe for cheese?
Michelle: For cheese?
Scott: What’s your go-to recipe? What’s your signature?
Michelle: I don’t have a signature dish. I’m just a farmer’s daughter, but I do like to make my own Sloppy Joe mix, so you don’t need to buy… And you do this too. You don’t need to buy it in the can. You don’t need to buy it…
Scott: The Manwich?
Michelle: Yeah, you don’t need to buy it in a packet, you don’t need to buy it in a can. It’s just a pound of ground beef, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. That’s all it is.
Scott: And you know when we started doing the “Hunt. Fish. Feed.” program with Sportsman Channel, we did a lot of Sloppy Joe.
Michelle: Yes, that’s right. Yeah. And that’s what you did.
Scott: And that was then what we would make. We would use ground venison and use that very same recipe, and feed several hundred people. We still do venison Sloppy Joes for the “Hunt. Fish. Feed.” program, which we used to feed homeless military folks and military families and homeless around the country. We used venison, wild pig, salmon, that sort of thing.
Michelle: All sorts of… We’ve used bear.
Scott: Bear. Yeah, right.
Scott: And Waterfowl. Actually, we got a special dispensation in California from Fish and Game to let me have enough possession of ducks and geese to feed 650 people.
Michelle: I had that in Minnesota, but it was for fish. Remember that? We were up in Forest Lake at the Annual Ice Fishing Tournament, and I had, I don’t know how many pounds of fish with me, but I had to have a DNR guy come check.
Scott: ‘Cause you were over your possession.
Michelle: I was over my possession of fish, obviously, ’cause we were feeding a couple of hundred people in Downtown Saint Paul. But I still remember that to this day.
Scott: And speaking of the Hunt. Fish. Feed. program, you need to check it out. Go to Sportsman Channel and check out what we do with “Hunt. Fish. Feed.”
Michelle: It’s on Facebook, HuntFishFeed.
Scott: We’ve been doing this program for 13 years or something like that, and have fed 115 or 120 different locations around the country.
Michelle: It changes you. Just go to, and don’t just do it at Christmas time, but go to a shelter, ask if you can volunteer, and serve. It will change you, it will change your family, I guarantee it.
Scott: NWTF helped us out. I don’t know, six or seven years ago we did Thanksgiving in May in Chicago and fed six or seven hundred people. We did a wild turkey Thanksgiving dinner in May, and I want you to understand there’s a real challenge…
Scott: With using wild turkey and keeping it moist and feeding six or seven hundred people at a time.
Michelle: You didn’t have 20 coolers lined up?
Scott: We had it all in coolers.
Michelle: Did you really?
Scott: Had it in cooler… After I got it to… I got it to about 145 degrees…
Michelle: You stuck it in a cooler.
Scott: And then put it in coolers, which kept it moist, and don’t open those cooler lids, and then we just had the assembly line…
Michelle: How many coolers did you have?
Scott: Lots, lots of coolers.
Scott: But anyone that’s cooked a wild turkey and knows how dry it can be, brine it first. And to do wild turkey, sliced wild turkey breast for that many people, I got really lucky, it actually, it was really good.
Scott: So that’s the Hunt. Fish. Feed. program, sold.
Michelle: We’ll talk more about Hunt. Fish. Feed., I’m sure, in the future. But, yeah.
Scott: Talked about our go-to recipes, including the Sloppy Joe.
Scott: And what not to do when you’re duck hunting in Mazatlan. And…
Michelle: Sometimes you just make bad choices, although you won’t admit it, but…
Scott: It won’t stop me from eating oysters from the food vendor in Mazatlan.
Michelle: Yeah. Just like our friend Melissa Bachman, who everyone knows of Winchester Deadly Passion, she loves her sushi and she loves eating gas station sushi. And no matter how many times she gets sick, she will still eat gas station sushi. [laughter]
Scott: Right. The things we do on the road. And when you’re on the road…
Michelle: She’ll never stop. So…
Michelle: But check out Melissa too at Winchester Deadly Passion. Oh! She’s a genuine soul. There’s not many of us out there, but there’s two here, Melissa is the third, we’ll tell you about others. [laughter]
Scott: Yeah. Talk to you next time.
Outro: Well, time sure flies when you’re loading up on good food, good wine, and great conversation. Find more Scott Leysath at www.sportingchef.com , where you can also nab a free wild game e-book and sign up for his two times a month newsletter, track him on social media, and see how to watch The Sporting Chef airing on Sportsman Channel and Dead Meat on Sportsman Channel and MyOutdoorTV. For more Michelle, check out www.bulletproofcomm.com .She runs her own marketing communications firm, handling PR, social media, and more for some of the biggest names in the outdoors. That’s it for now. We’ll see you next time when, again, we go Off the Record with The Sporting Chef and Michelle.